Saturday, 27 July 2019

England vs Ireland

England thrashed Ireland by 143 inside three days, as we all knew they would.  Except it wasn't quite that simple as England done there usual trick of not actually turning up for the first day of a Test summer and were bowled out for 85.  Ireland finished with a lead of 120+ and that was just day one.  Or not quite...  Jack Leach who gone in at no.11 in the first innings went in at no.1 in the second, to fend off the one remaining over in the day.  He carried on the following morning and ended up top scoring with 92.  Jason Roy hit 72 in his second test innings and it looked like normal service resumed, until England collapsed again to leave Ireland chasing 182 to win.  Just what we need at the start of an Ashes summer.

I was perched in front of the TV on Friday morning with a confident feeling, if we could strike early I was sure we'd win comfortably.  Woakes and Broad combined in perfect bowling conditions to rout Ireland for 38.  It was top class bowling that would have troubled any of the test playing nations let alone Ireland, just a shame the action was over so quickly as I had nothing planned for the rest of the day.  

Afterwards Joe Root was very critical of the 'bowler friendly' Lords pitch which seemed out of character, was he just sticking up for the batsmen?  The Ashes squad has just been announced and it includes both Burns and Denly so I'd say that's a yes.  It's probably a fair call at this stage as who else do we have?  Looking at the squad and the team almost picks itself;  Burns, Roy, Denly, Root, Buttler, Stokes and Bairstow all play.  There's only one spinner so Moeen Ali will come in at no.8.  Anderson and Broad will both play leaving Woakes, Curran, Stone and Archer in contention for the last bowling spot.  Who they pick will depend on the pitch, at least it should...

Almost two weeks have passed since that traumatic day which ended in England lifting the World cup.  English cricket has been justly celebrating but there has been a lot of hate from other parts of the world, declaring England as fake champions as we didn't actually win the match, apparently.

The Aussies started but soon went quiet when it was pointed out that they didn't actually win the famous semi final in 1999... 

Mostly it's been teenagers from the sub continent killing time between wanks by spouting this 'fake champion' rubbish.  
It was fun reminding them that of the last twenty ODI series played England have only lost two away series against South Africa and India as well as a one off match against Scotland, a drawn series in West Indies and a Champions trophy semi final defeat.  So that's fifteen wins out of twenty.  

We are unbeaten in a home series for the last four years which may be why the ICC decided to make the pitches for the World cup completely different to what we're used to playing on?
We went into the world cup ranked no.1 in the world.

Of the teams that beat us during the group stages we beat Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia both home and away in the series preceding the tournament and of course we also thrashed Australia in the semi final.  We also beat the other semi finalists during the group stages.

And of course, given the written match rules that nobody even mentioned before the day we won the final fair and square, albeit with a fair slice of luck that was long overdue.

England World cup winners 2019 still sounds wonderful.  Are we going to add '2019 Ashes winners' to that too?  If England's top three score runs then I think we'll do it comfortably but that is a massive 'If'.  If we assume they don't then it is a much more even series.  Both sides will be capable of taking twenty wickets it will just be down to who can bat long enough to exert pressure.  I think England should just have enough to win and predict a golden series for Ben Stokes.

Monday, 22 July 2019

"Come Together As One..." Latitude 2019


The journey didn't go to plan.  Our normal cross country route was blighted by roadworks and we even got stuck behind a JCB cutting the verges on the diversion route.  The Purple Princess was DJ, a bit of Underworld, a bit of Primal Scream.  There was some light rain at the car park and as usual we were mugged by the Hari Krishna's.  The big push through passport control/ticket exchange was as exhausting as I expected.  List of jobs to do;
1 Find a space 
2 Put the tent up.  
3 Collapse in a heap.
4 Make a brew.
5 Chill out.

Tick all five so we sat and imbibed whilst watching the spectacle of a growing campsite.  It's the usual mix of people but as time passed the average age of our neighbours plummeted.  We'd pitched up roughly where we always do without taking changes into account.  Just a few days before the event Festival Republic announced that 'Family Camping' had been extended to swallow up 'Yellow Camping' meaning all the Lunateens were camping around us.  
I like watching the campsite grow, especially people struggling with tents which always amuses me, a passing shower added to the hilarity.  Each social group has it's own pecking order, spotting the princesses doesn't take long, the rest are usually sheep.  As usual there were very many teens too drunk too soon.  Loads of people with a phone in their hand, loads more spouting words but only actually saying "look at me!"  These are not our people.
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At some point in the early evening we took a slow stroll down to the arenas, as we do every year just to reacquaint  ourselves with Henham Park, though it is barely necessary.  I bought a pint of bitter but it was just brown lager, I shouldn't have expected anything else from something named 'Otter'.  The burger I fueled up with was actually pretty bloody good.  Having done a lap and found all was well and the pink sheep were in situ, we heard some music was coming out of 'Solas' (pronounced soo luss, apparently).  This was made by Junior Brother who was like angry 'Father Dougal'.  A few tunes later we'd had enough so wandered out again and encountered 'The Elder', the drums entranced us so we joined the cult of the Yeti and followed his parade, these are our people..

A while later another random motion took us into a little theatre showing a Bowie film, we'd missed most of it but still enjoyed a bit of Ziggy.  No late night, keep miles in the legs, back to the tent.  The campsite is fucking rammed, the toilets are a fucking disgrace, ironically positioned right beside the 'Seat of luxury' bogs for which you have to pay extra money.  So pay 'Crap tax' or shit in squalor?

Campsite voices

"Applewood and Chorizo! It's so peng!"

"Grace can I use your glitter?"

"Well I haven't had a proper relationship in like, two years..."

"I love you really",  "At least I'm not constipated", "I hate you!"

"I need a wee..."


When the tent gets warm we wake up, when the tent gets hot I just have to get up.  Great, there's a tear in the fly sheet FFS!  Someone pissed and falling over no doubt.  It's OK, I have duct tape.  The human zoo is awake, chilling out in clusters.  Festival adventures are being dissected from every viewpoint thus securing them into legend to be reported to those not lucky/wealthy enough to attend.  These people will listen in boredom.

We don't get out early, picking a path through the guy ropes requires more intricate steps than any I'll make on the dance floor.  We took a pit stop en route, thankfully the toilets had improved.  We wandered; Anna Calvi was playing on the main stage, the two songs we heard were OK.  Jonathan Wilson in the big tent, Nah.  Foxing at the Sunrise arena was much more like our thing and we chilled out amongst the tall trees of Endor.

Dinner was Vietnamese Noodles and very nice too.  Back up to the Obelisk where we saw Khruangbin playing psychedelic guitary stuff which would have been just the job on a sunny afternoon but another shower got us moving again, back towards the tent.  We're swimming against the tide of humanity going the other way.  These people are young, wealthy and middle class.  This festival is a rite of passage for every public school child in the south of England.  These are not our people.

After a siesta we dodged showers and got back to the Obelisk and near the front of a big crowd just in time for Loyle Carner.  What can I say?  Momentous,emotional, brilliant.  His voice is clear, his words are intelligent, he is humble and grateful. Has there ever been British hip hop on the main stage before?  He will come back and headline sometime.  The Princess and I loved it as did the packed crowd of youngsters that surrounded us.  They shouted the words but do they hear them?  These are not our people but Loyle is.

Hardly time to draw breath, over to the big tent for Primal Scream, oh yes!  Minutes crawl by...  Here they are!  Bobby in a shocking pink suit!  They started with 'Movin on up!' and ripped through an hour of hits that didn't let us off the hook.  One tiny niggle is my favourite songs are Screamadelic which don't sound quite as good live without a massive production.  The show finished with everyone singing 'Come together as one'  And we did, these are our people!  
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We grabbed some donuts then found ourselves stuck in another flow of people which took us back up the hill towards the campsite.  Here we found the toilets had given up the ghost, this after running out of water earlier in the day, the campsite facilities are not coping!

Campsite voices

"Keith Allen, that's Lily Allen's Dad!"

"Why you taking her side for fuck sake?",  "I'm not taking anyone's side, I just want people to get along!"

"I was literally lost, like, only ten metres from here"

"I've never met anyone like her, she's so kind..."

"You were like two twins in the womb"

"I'm desperate for a wee!"


There was rain overnight but sunshine and showers through the day.  Rain is okay at night and in the morning, it quietens the campsite.  I had to brave the toilets to take a dump but thankfully they were working again.

We spent the afternoon in the comedy arena, starting with Kiri Pritchard-Mclean who is busty and welsh, as is her humour.  Made us laugh though.  A heavy shower brought people rushing into the tent without a care for anyone sitting there.  It almost got out of hand, the princess was fallen on.  When the rain stopped loads just fucked off again.  Wankers.  These are not our people.  Rosie Jones was actually much better than she comes across on TV, her delivery really works live.  Finally Mark Watson who we've seen twice before, both times he was brilliant and I couldn't believe he'd be that good again.  I was wrong.  He's a natural comedian and best in front of an audience.

On the way back we ate duck wrap from the 'Duck Truck', it was excellent, the best food I've had at a festival in years.

After a siesta the world went strange and we bounced against gravity on our way back to the arenas, destination Obelisk where we arrived just in time for Stereophonics who I've left drift by over the years.  They played a good professional set, every one a hit.  Most I liked, a couple I didn't but there were also a couple I really liked.  Yes they get the thumbs up from me, a load better than Snow Patrol who they replaced at short notice.  This was a very safe Latitude booking and these are not our people.

After a short turnaround the main stage was bouncing again, this time Underworld bringing the nineties back with an hour of big light show, massive sound, pounding beats, smiley faces and everyone dancing in a field.  It's party time, a euphoric crowd for dance legends.  These are our people, don't let it stop!

After that we wandered around, trying to find some music that suited our moods, we found success at the Sunrise arena where Kate Miller got us with some trancey stuff and Beneath hit us with drum and bass, we hung on to our people until our legs could take no more and the gum chewers were replaced by beer drinkers.  The camp site was riotous but hilarious and you can tune it out when you choose.  We got to bed around 0400.  We did get some sleep.

Campsite voices

"She's seen too much of Charlie at college..."

"When I was at high school I almost dropped my bag.  I screamed!"

"This is like, Britney in her prime..."

"Got to see a man about a dog", "Pills or by the gram?"

"Everything hurts.  Even my vagina hurts!"

"I'm going for a piss"


Low on energy due to last nights exertions but a hot tent got us up earlier than we would have liked.  We wanted to see Milton Jones in the comedy tent and actually got to the arena in time to see Ashley Storie who was very Glaswegian and quite funny.  Milton Jones came on, spat silly/clever one liners at us for an hour.  His act is the same but most of the jokes are fresh and he's always funny.  Steve Bugeja sent me to sleep and Lou Sanders wasn't funny enough to make us forget that our arses ached so we moved.
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We lay down in the sun at the Obelisk where Pale Waves made some entertaining music but I don't see them as future headliners.  Next up was Cat Power = wailing woman so we legged it and had fish and chips for dinner.  Twice before I've had festival fish and chips that was barely edible but it was third time lucky.  The people from Whitby done well.  We also treated ourselves to a 99 for afters.

The campsite looks like a shanty town inhabited by apes, which in a way it is only these apes are fucking retarded even by simian standards.  At the end of the festival this lot actually look like they've been throwing shit at each other.  Make up and designer labels don't hide festival scars.  Civilisation breaks down quickly, Lord of the Flies.  At least there are a few gaps where some have packed up early.  These are not our people.

We were knackered so crashed out for longer than planned, in fact the Princess was crashed out for good with a headache.  I tucked her in and made a last trip down to the arenas in time to see Slaves, two piece shouty punk that I was really enjoying...  These might be my people... Then there was an unscheduled interlude as a couple of people needed medical attention.  The band handled it brilliantly but as the delay lengthened I cut my losses and headed back, it just wasn't the same without my dancing partner.  My route took me through the back of the Obelisk arena where Lana Del Ray seemed like she hadn't improved much if at all since 2012 I think?

Back to the tent for a brew.  The Princess is crashed out, we won't be taking one last stroll around to say goodbye to our playground.  Time to lay down and listen to the drama unfolding all around me, the Lunateens want to go out with a bang.  They are not our people, I will tune them out eventually.

Campsite voices

"You're such a drama queen when you've been drinking"

"They'll think we're just a bunch of weed smoking white boys", "But that's what we are", "Shut up!"

"He reckons Smithy could take me in a fight.  I'm not having that..."

"Nick sucked off a lady boy..."

"Been for a shit, it didn't go well..."

"I feel perfectly normal, except I think I've pissed myself."


Another hot tent morning means we are awake early again.  I have to take a shit, it won't wait until I get home.  For the first time this weekend I can walk in a straight line to the toilet, which to be fair hasn't been in too bad a state, I haven't had too many refusals.

Festival Republic have cocked up this year, red camping was too packed and the facilities did not cope at times.  Over crowding led to tension and on at least one occasion, violence.  I can't ever remember seeing (or actually, like so many things, hearing) this at the festival before. At the price of a weekend ticket at least we should be able to expect drinking water and working toilets.  Next year we'll have to rethink where we camp.
Also in the year of Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion, and plastic frenzy it was disheartening to see the amount of shit left behind by the next generation.  Are they ignorant or are their parents morons?  

What we did next was have yet another brew, eat some breakfast then decamp, before trudging back with a rucksack and loaded barrow through July heat for another fifty one weeks of shit sucking normality offset with flushing toilets, showers and comfortable beds.

Campsite voices

"Ket for breakfast!"

"Don't ever let me drink like that again", "You say that every year..."

"I'm still a big fan of the Wiggles"

"Brian!  Stop being a cunt!"

"Wilf had a wank in a portaloo"

"You were literally throwing up and shitting at the same time"

"Just piss through the fence"

Monday, 15 July 2019


I started getting nervous on Saturday evening and barely slept through the night but that may have been down to the group of cyclists doing some kind of annual night bike ride round the town.  Fucking lycra clad cycling Nazis, OK they weren't blocking the roads and causing as much disruption as they do in daylight but why did they have to be such noisy bastards?  Seriously, hollering up the street at each other and one pillock had a fucking stereo!

I didn't have time to feel the nerves this morning as I had to get to work.  Once again I set up the radio in the office and used Crininfo out front.  I spent most of the day pacing between the two.  The game was delayed but NZ won the toss and elected to bat.  I felt a bit relieved as I didn't feel up to listening to England facing up to the Kiwi bowlers quite so early in the morning.

The game is underway with Guptill flailing and getting away with it.  He's had a crap tournament, surely he won't come good now?  No.  Woakes gets him, 29/1.  This brings Williamson in and together with Nicholls the runs start to pile up.  I feel sick.

Plunkett comes on to bowl and makes things happen, first he gets Williamson then follows it up shortly after with Nicholls for 55.  The score is 118/3 after 27.  This seems pretty good for us but I still feel terrible.  It may not be a spectacle but I just want England to steam roller them in this final, like we did the Aussies in the semi.

New Zealand aren't getting away but they are accumulating, Ross Taylor is a dangerous player but Wood has him LBW and it's 141/4.  If we could just run through them now and ease my nerves...  Latham holds things together and the tail all chip in a few.  Woakes and Plunkett finish with three wickets apiece and all England's bowlers have done well to restrict NZ to 241 or have they?

England's innings starts and I'm more nervous than at any stage previously.  The wicket is getting worse and our openers find it hard to score...  Roy falls caught behind and it's 28/1.  But Bairstow is finding the boundary and together with Root the score is ticking over now.  If Root bats through we will win.  When I left work the score was 55/1

The journey home was delayed and agonising, when I walked into the living room I was dismayed to find the score was 84/3 which soon became 86/4.  The pitch is shocking, no one can get the ball off the square.  Is this deliberate?  Is ICC trying to negate England's strengths?  That's it the game is gone, we can't win it from here.  Why did I start to care about ODI cricket again?

I had to go out again to collect Isaac from karate (red belt well done!) but while I waited Stokes and Buttler pushed the score on.  It was nerve wracking watching the score tick over on the cricinfo app on my phone but at least the score was building.  A situation that seemed hopeless was being restored...  Just when I walked back into the house Buttler was caught for 59, the score 196/5.  "That's the game gone then" says I. 

By now the nerves have nearly gone because honestly I've given it up.  New Zealand are going to win and fair play to them.  Ben Stokes is still there and even though the wickets are falling at the other end he is somehow keeping us in the game.  We can't win it but at least we're making a fight of it.  It's like 1992 again, we've been the best team throughout the tournament but we're going to fall at the final hurdle.

We're in over 49 and Stokes launches one long, he's caught on the boundary and that's it but NO!  Boult steps on the boundary rope and it's six!  We should be done but we're still in this!  This is the best ODI team we've had since '92 and we deserve this!!!

The final over, two dot balls but then Stokes smashes the ball into the crowd for six.  Next ball, scampering back for two and the ball rebounds off Stokes bat and flies to the boundary for overthrows totaling six!  The last two balls bring two attempted 'twos' and two run outs.  After fifty overs the scores are tied and we have a super over.  My nerves are totally shot to bits.  This is agony.

Stokes and Buttler come out, three off the first ball, somehow they hit a couple of boundaries, scamper a bit and score 15 runs.  England's superior boundary count means New Zealand must score 16 to win.

Archer bowls...  the first ball is given a wide!  The second or is it third? ball goes for six.  The game is gone now...  Well played NZ.  But Archer holds his nerve, prevents boundaries and a run out of the last ball, (Roy to Buttler), has me jumping around the room screaming!!!  England have somehow won the world cup!!!

We have to admit that the Kiwis were probably the best team on the day and England had some enormous slices of luck but over the course of the tournament England were the best team.  Indeed England have been the best ODI in the world for a few years now.  But still even this one eyed England fan has sympathy for Kane Williamson and New Zealand, they didn't lose the final but they didn't win the world cup.  They behaved like sportsman and gentlemen, these aren't people to resort to sand paper.  New Zealand had the game won but luck thwarted them.

Apparently online Aussies are whinging that "England didn't actually win the world cup...".  They choose to forget the famous tied semi final of 1999...
Stuff that, England won the world cup, it's about time we had some luck for God's sake!  I've loved this tournament with all its ups and downs, smashing Australia in the semi was glorious, even better when we effectively eliminated them in 1992, a day I'll never forget.  Did I enjoy that match?  Not for a second, not until the final ball had been bowled, then I went berserk.  I have consistently enjoyed watching England play ODI cricket over the last four years.  In 1992 we had a great team but this current England side is without the best we've ever had, by a distance and could well go on to be regarded as the greatest ODI side of all time.

Image result for world cup 2019

Now my nerves are returning to somewhere near normal we have an Ashes series to come.  Whatever happens in that we'll still be world champions!

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Match Forty Seven

So New Zealand managed to beat India, a result no one saw coming and the second semi final imminent.  Going into the game against Australia I felt calm and confident...

Once again I took the radio to work but this time I managed to remember to switch the thing on and together with the Cricinfo commentary on the computer I stayed in touch with the game all day.  Australia won the toss and batted first which in some ways took the pressure off as the team batting first was expected to win.  Archer and Woakes combined with a brilliant new ball spell to reduce Australia to 14/3 and all nerves were gone, I knew the game was ours.  Even with Smith and Carey putting on a century stand I still felt we had the game under control.  When Rashid stitched up the middle order I was actually enjoying the match, even with so much at stake.  The pace men blew the tail away and England needed 224 to win.

We know the Aussie bowlers are class but we also knew we wouldn't have to hurry.  Bairstow and Roy played themselves in then dispatched the Aussie attack to all parts of Birmingham, it was glorious!  Even after they departed Root and Morgan didn't let up and make the win look easy.  This was a brutal display, ODI cricket at its best and now we're in the final!

So tomorrow I'll be at work with my radio again and yes I will be nervous.  England are the best ODI team in the world and fully deserve to win but the Kiwis are a good side too.  We were the best side in '92 but peaked too soon...  That's the trouble with one day cricket, the margins can be so fine.  This time tomorrow we could be world champions but still I barely dare to hope.  Sunday will be emotional, whatever happens.

Monday, 8 July 2019


The round robin stage came to a conclusion with West Indies managing to beat Afghanistan to end a really disappointing tournament.  Next Pakistan comprehensively beat Bangladesh in a game that was ultimately meaningless.  Pakistan's win meant they equaled New Zealand's points tally and actually recorded a win over the Kiwis but their run rate was miles behind and only a miraculous win would have over turned this.

The final day of the regular tournament still saw plenty to play for.  First up Sri Lanka set a decent target of 264/7 thanks to a century from Mathews but India easily overhauled this with six overs and seven wickets to spare.  The last match was a cracker; South Africa actually woke up and played the kind of cricket we know they are capable of, posting a target of 325 and as I listened to TMS they took three Aussie wickets quickly.  Somehow Warner and Carey managed to get Australia close but ultimately the Saffers had too much and won by 10 runs.  These results meant that India replaced Australia at the top of the table and will face New Zealand in the first semi final at Old Trafford.  The other semi will be the small matter of England vs Australia at Edgbaston...  Maybe South Africa have their revenge for their defeat in the '99 semi final?  Finishing second means Australia have a far more difficult match ahead, we hope.

I like the round robin format but until the last week it hadn't resulted in the meaningful matches the ICC would have hoped for.  As it turned out the top four teams have remained in situ for virtually the whole five weeks.  This was not the case in 1992 when New Zealand and England sat at the top throughout but the third and fourth places changed regularly.  In the penultimate week South Africa climbed into the semi final spots and in the last Pakistan peaked at the right time to secure their place on the last day of the round robin.  In doing so they knocked out the hosts and favourites, Australia.  For a while it looked like Pakistan may repeat this feat once more but now, dare I say that this time, if any team looks like peaking at the right time, it's England?

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Match Forty One

I asked the question at work and taking a radio tuned to TMS would be most welcome so I packed it just so I wouldn't forget first thing in the morning.

Work was busy.  So busy I completely forgot about the cricket until late in the day and the radio never came out of my bag.  I hope I will be cured of this affliction before the test series starts later in the summer.

Instead I resorted to the Cricinfo commentary again, when the page materialised the news was good, England were well on top!  Batting first we made 305/8 with another ton from Johnny and another half from Jason.  In reply the Kiwis were 20 odd for two and when I looked again this had turned to 69/4 with both Taylor and Williamson run out!  No anxiety for me today!

By the time I made it home the game was over with all of England's bowlers having a good day reducing New Zealand to 186 all out.  Mark Wood takes the plaudits with 3/34 and a cheeky run out.
After a nervous week England qualify in third place, even with three defeats they will stay confident having beaten two of the top four sides.  With Plunkett and Roy back in the XI we look like a really good side once again and could possibly be peaking at the right time?  New Zealand have fell from top of the table to fourth in the space of a few days but look certain to qualify for the semis.  Pakistan have a theoretical chance but it would be beyond even the most influential of bookmakers.  Thankfully the potential parallel with 1992 has been avoided, I really feared Pakistan would sneak in at the expense of the home team and favourites.

Over the last couple of days India have beaten Bangladesh and so effectively knocked them out of the tournament and the very disappointing West Indies were beaten by Sri Lanka.  Australia and India fill the top two places in the table but both have tough games to come so these places could reverse and we won't know our semi final opponents until Sunday evening...